Need a little extra cash? If you have a car and a little spare time, you might be able to make money by becoming a Lyft driver.
Lyft has been on the rise in recent years and is a major part of the side gig economy, along with its primary rival, Uber. There’s a low barrier to entry: A decent driving record and a clean late-model car.
Check out this Lyft review to see if becoming a Lyft driver is the right move for you.
Driving with Lyft is probably one the of the easiest ways to earn extra money. You set up with the Lyft Driver app, enter your information, and in a couple of days you’re on your way to making up to $20 to $30 an hour.
Lyft has a reputation for being friendly, welcoming, and trustworthy, according to a recent survey performed by Ipsos. In fact, the Ipsos survey indicates Lyft has a better reputation than other ridesharing services. And the industry as a whole is strong, with some people giving up their cars in favor of using services like Lyft and Uber.
If you want to earn money by capitalizing on this growing trend — or even if you just want to profit from the fact that people need rides to the airport when they’re traveling, or from a bar or party when they’ve been drinking — Lyft can help.
How Lyft works
Lyft allows riders to hail a driver with their phones. As the driver, you receive a notification when someone nearby needs a ride. You can choose whether to accept the fare or not. If you do accept the fare, you are given turn-by-turn directions using the navigation app of your choice.
Riders have their payment information saved in the app, and they are charged automatically at the end of the ride. Every step of the way, riders and drivers are kept informed. Drivers use the touchscreen to indicate when they arrive to pick up a fare, and touch the screen again when they pull away with the rider in the car.
Just as they receive instructions for picking up fares, drivers also receive navigation to a rider’s destination. Once the rider is dropped off, the driver taps the screen, and Lyft charges the rider. You can see how much you earned before tip, including if you received a bonus for driving during a busy time.
On top of that, you have a chance to rate the rider. If the experience was unpleasant, Lyft makes an effort to avoid pairing you with that rider again.
You don’t have to do anything to collect money — Lyft takes care of the transaction, including collecting a tip from the driver. The Lyft app makes it easy for drivers to leave you a tip, and you easily see your earnings in the app.
How to be a Lyft driver
If you want to become a Lyft driver, you need to meet certain requirements. Here is what Lyft expects from its drivers:
- Be at least 21 years old.
- Own a smartphone.
- Have at least a year of U.S. driving experience and an in-state U.S. driver’s license.
- Have an in-state car insurance with your name on the policy.
- Keep in-state plates on your car and a current car registration.
- Complete a vehicle inspection.
- Own a car that has four doors and is 2005 or newer (though for some cities there might be different requirements).
You can’t just start driving immediately, though. Lyft will perform background and DMV checks before approving you. On top of that, Lyft will verify your insurance. When I applied for Lyft, the process took about two days, but it can sometimes take longer.
Start by going to the Lyft website and filling in basic information.
Once you have that information entered, you need to download the Lyft app or the Lyft Driver app and go from there. You can also connect your Lyft Driver account to your rider account. In fact, it’s easy to switch from being a rider to being a driver. While you can make the shift inside your Lyft rider app, though, I find it easier to use the Lyft Driver app.
Lyft takes you step-by-step through completing the signup process. You will need to include your Social Security number and answer other questions about where you live and your driving record. Pictures of your insurance card, car registration, driver’s license, and your face are required.
You will be prompted for each item, making signup easy and quick. I found it easier to take photos with my camera outside the app and then select “Choose existing” to submit my documentation, rather than take a photo at each step. Lyft takes you through what is needed for an image to be acceptable, so make sure that your photos have all the required information legible.
As you continue to drive for Lyft, you will have to update your information. My insurance recently renewed, and until I take a picture of my new insurance card and send it to Lyft, I am unable to pick up any new fares.
Once everything is submitted and verified, Lyft will notify you — and you can start making money.
How much do Lyft drivers make?
What you make driving Lyft depends largely on where you live and how much you plan to drive. Use the calculator on the Lyft website to figure out your potential earnings.
My expectation of driving 20 hours a week leads to the claim that I could make $400 per week, or $20 an hour. In some of the busier cities, though, Lyft offers a guarantee that you will make $30 an hour. Depending on where you live, this could be a great way to ensure that you make money driving for Lyft.
You can also make money from getting signup and referral bonuses. I received $20 because I used someone else’s referral code. The person who referred me also received a bonus when I started driving. Additionally, someone else signing up for Lyft using my referral code would mean more money in my pocket.
New driver bonuses are also possible. However, you need to give a set amount of rides within a specific period. For my area, Lyft required me to give 50 rides within 30 days to earn a $100 signup bonus. I didn’t come close to reaching that goal.
However, the $20 an hour wasn’t too far off — at least for one day.
I chose to sign up for Lyft just ahead of my town’s Beerfest. As a result, I gave 10 rides over a period of six hours. Lyft is transparent about tips, referrals, and fees. Plus, there is an Express Pay option that allows you to get your money deposited immediately into your account (there is a fee of 50 cents per request). As you can see, if I subtract the $20 referral, I made $28.15 an hour. Not bad.
However, it’s important to note that some days are busier than others. I made a good amount due to a special event. Most of the time, I was lucky to give two rides a day. You can go online anytime you want, as it fits your schedule, and I kept my availability open while I ran errands and worked.
I could make more money, though, if I were willing to “Go Online” during peak times in my town. Pay attention to the times people usually take rides. In my locality, the busiest times for Lyft are between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., to take bar customers home. Other times are far less busy. In fact, other than Beerfest, I’m lucky to make $20 in a day, much less $20 an hour.
However, if you live in a city with fewer independent drivers or more activities, you might see higher demand. Living near a major airport can also provide you with a way to make more money as a Lyft driver. My location in the middle of nowhere doesn’t help my cause.
Finally, you can increase the tips you receive by being friendly, keeping your vehicle clean, and being knowledgeable about your area. My recommendations for good places to eat (and even the best fishing hole along the river!) have led to higher tips from grateful riders.
Lyft customer service
As a driver, it’s easy to get help from Lyft. Tapping your face on the home screen will pull up a menu of options that can connect you to the information you seek.
You can see information about your vehicle, any scheduled pickups, and change the settings, including your address and where you want payments sent. If you need further assistance, you can select the “Help” button to be taken to where you can get answers to questions or even find roadside assistance.
Lyft partners with Allstate for roadside assistance, so you can take advantage of that if you’re on the clock. Your own car insurance might also provide you with roadside assistance, so check your policy. Lyft also has a Platinum program though Accelerate which allows you free roadside assistance.
On top of that, Lyft also offers its own rideshare insurance policies. You can report an accident by using your app, although it takes a couple of steps to get there. From the “Roadside Assistance” feature in your app, under “Help,” you can navigate to a page that features a “Call Me” button. Click it, and a Lyft specialist will contact you to help you through the steps.
It’s also possible to practice giving a ride with the “Ride Walkthrough” and report left behind items in the “Lost & Found.” If you want to connect with a Lyft representative, there is an email form you can fill out online or on the app.
Is driving for Lyft right for you?
Weigh the pros and cons to decide if driving for Lyft is right for you. If you have extra time on the weekend or even during the week when you’re not at work, it might make sense to sign up.
However, if you live someplace where demand for Lyft is low, it might not be the best use of your time. Instead, check out Student Loan Hero’s list of side hustles that require little involvement to find something that works better for your situation.
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